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Health insurance premiums fell in exactly one state in 2015

By   /   January 13, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

AP file photo

AFFORDABLE?: Under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, health insurance premiums have skyrocketed everywhere but Mississippi.

Mississippi is first in something. An analysis by Freedom Partners shows Mississippi was the only state to see a drop in health insurance premiums on the individual marketplace in 2015.

The amount wasn’t much, minus 0.2 percent, but it was better than the other 49 states which all had increases under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Mississippi Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney says the reason is simple: competition and a previous medical loss ratio snafu. The MLR is a requirement of the ACA that demands health insurance issuers submit data on the proportion of premium revenues spent on clinical services and quality improvement.

United Health Care and Magnolia Health Care, a subsidiary of Kansas City-based Centene, had premium decreases, while Humana had an increase on some of its plans. Chaney said Magnolia had lowered its rates by 25 percent because of a miscalculation on its MLR and some other factors.

“That’s a correction on their part,” Chaney said of Magnolia’s cut.

Chaney predicts rates will be about the same in Mississippi 2016, but rise next year. United Health Care has announced it will stop selling plans on the federal insurance exchanges in 2017, which will affect rates due to less competition, Chaney said. Also, Chaney has allowed the practice of selling transitional plans that don’t conform to all of the ACA requirements. The Magnolia State is one of 35 states allowing these sort of plans.

The White House announced a two-year extension for non-compliant plans in 2014, which expires in 2017.

“Those plans are usually 15 to 65 percent lower than if they had to conform to the Affordable Care Act,” Chaney said.

Alaska, Hawaii , Minnesota and Tennessee endured increases of 30 percent or more. Minnesota had the nation’s biggest increase at 47.7 percent.

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Steve Wilson is the Mississippi reporter for Watchdog.org. Beginning his career as a sports writer, he has worked for the Mobile Press-Register (Ala.), the LaGrange Daily News (Ga.), Highlands Today (Fla.),McComb Enterprise-Journal (Miss.), the Biloxi Sun Herald(Miss.) and the Vicksburg Post (Miss.) Steve's work has appeared on Fox News, the Huffington Post and the Daily Signal. His bachelor's degree is in journalism with a minor in political science from the University of Alabama. Steve is also a member of the Mississippi Press Association and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He served four-plus years in the United States Coast Guard after his high school graduation and is a native of Mobile, Ala.